World Navies in Review

By A. D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World

Aircraft Carriers

Russia's aircraft carrier fleet is now reduced to one, the 59,100-ton Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov , which emerged from a two-year overhaul at the beginning of July 1998 and was declared active again in the Northern Fleet on 3 November—at which point only a dozen pilots remained nominally carrier-qualified to fly the two dozen Su-27K Flanker-D fighters bought for the Russian Navy earlier this decade. At a news conference on 11 January 1999, Indian Minister of Defense George Fernandes confirmed rumors that a letter of intent had at last been signed to buy Russia's 44,570-ton semi-carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov , which had been inactive since 1991. The Gorshkov reportedly will be modified extensively to accommodate conventional take-off and landing aircraft, either Flanker-Ds or the smaller MiG-29K Fulcrum-D, depending on which report one believes. Negotiations had begun in 1994, and the refit and modifications (which would include removal of the missile systems on the bow to permit the area's use as a ski-jump take-off ramp) are expected to take up to three years at Severodvinsk, once a formal contract is signed. Neither the Indian Navy (which would prefer to build an optimized carrier of about 24,000 tons) nor the Indian Air Force (which sees its maritime strike mission in jeopardy) is said to be pleased with the impending deal, which at best will produce a poorly arranged carrier with indifferent combat capabilities.

The commissioning of France's 40,600-ton, nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle has again been delayed, this time to the spring of 2000, and the aged and infirm conventional carrier Foch 's retirement has been postponed to 1 July 2000 to ensure that the French Navy retains a carrier capability. The Charles de Gaulle began engineering trials late in December 1998, and her modest air group will not be complete until 2002 when the first interceptor-only Rafale-M fighters enter service. To solve the problem of carrier availability when the Charles de Gaulle is refitting and refuelling, the French have suggested a joint British-French carrier program (naturally, to employ France's Rafale-M-series aircraft rather than the Royal Navy's choice of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter); this is an offer not likely to be accepted, however.

The Royal Navy's own plans for replacing the three 20,700-ton Invincible -class carriers after 2012 were given a major boost in July 1998 with the release of the British Strategic Defense Review , in which the Labour government committed itself to the construction of two 40,000-ton class conventional carriers to be completed in 2012 and 2015. Contingency plans are proceeding, however, on service-life extensions for the Invincibles , which also would be able to accommodate (in smaller numbers) the Joint Strike Fighter planned for the larger ships. Late in 1998, the existing carrier Illustrious was nearing the end of modifications to accommodate better Royal Air Force Harrier GR.7 strike aircraft through the removal of the Sea Dart surface-to-air missile system and an enlargement of the flight deck and magazine facilities. The 20,500-ton amphibious assault carrier HMS Ocean (which can transport up to 20 Harriers if need be) was commissioned on 30 September.

In February 1998, the Italian government approved construction of a 20,800-ton carrier tentatively named the Luigi Einaudi after Italy's first post-World War II president. The ship, previously known as the NUM—Nuova Unita Maggiore (New Major Unit), is not to be laid down until 2001 and not commissioned until 2007. She is to be able to carry eight Harriers or a dozen EH.101 helicopters and also to carry some 620 troops and their equipment, including a dozen 60-ton tanks or up to 100 light trucks to be conveyed to a beachhead by up to four landing craft to be stowed in a stern docking well.

After a political struggle with the Brazilian Air Force that began in the mid-1950s, when the ship was bought from Great Britain and equipped in the Netherlands as an attack carrier, the 19,890-ton Brazilian Navy carrier Minas Gerais finally has been given a fighter complement. On 30 April 1998, Brazil purchased 23 A-4KU Skyhawks from Kuwait with the intent of operating 16 single-seaters (locally called the AF-1) and 2 two-seaters (AF-1A) from the Southern Hemisphere's only aircraft carrier. There appear to be compatibility problems with the 54-year-old ship, however, as the Minas Gerais can sustain only 18 knots and her steam catapult is unreliable. The Brazilian Navy leadership was reported this January to be considering asking the United States to sell the recently decommissioned supercarrier Independence (CV-62) as a replacement, a ship four times the size of the Minas Gerais and requiring five times the crew. Budgetary constraints under Brazil's rocky economy probably will bring a cold dose of reality to the scheme.

Submarines

Submarine construction in Russia had all but halted by the fall of 1998. In a 28 August press conference, Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov announced that further work on the only nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) under construction, the Yuriy Dolgorukiy —now scheduled to enter service in 2010—had been halted pending a redesign necessitated by the cancellation of the Grom (NATO SS-NX-28) ballistic-missile system; a new, smaller missile, probably based on the land-launched Topol-M, is to be developed for the submarine. Only one of the huge Typhoon (Project 941) SSBNs remains operational, and the class is to start scrapping this year with U.S. assistance. A missile fuel leak aboard the elderly Northern Fleet Delta-I -class SSBN K-447 on 5 May resulted in the first gapping of all SSBN patrols for several weeks while safety checks were made. The final Oscar-II -class (Project 949A) cruise missile submarine, the Tomsk , which had been commissioned on 28 February 1997, transitted to the Pacific under ice, arriving at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on 24 September 1998 to bring the Pacific Fleet class inventory to seven; four others remain in the Northern Fleet, and the impending scrapping of the two Oscar-I s was announced in November.

Work on the only Severodvinsk -class (Project 885) nuclear-powered attack submarine remains suspended since work ceased in 1996, but Fleet Admiral Kuroyedov did express a hope that two older-design, nearly complete Akula -class (Project 971) boats might be completed in 1999; there are two unfinished Akula-II s at Severodvinsk, the Gepard and the Kuguar ; while Kuroyedov may also have been referring to one of the two Akula-I s languishing in the building hall at Komsomol'sk-na-Amur. While Russian Navy nuclear-powered submarines continue to operate in small numbers, most, if not all, of the diesel boats are laid up for lack of funds to procure new batteries.

The last of four export Kilo -class diesel attack boats for China, the second improved model Project 636 unit, was launched on 17 June 1998 and departed the Baltic aboard a heavy-lift ship on 11 December, bound for the submarine base at Ning-bo. No more Kilos are known to be on order, and no customer has been found for the Amur 1650-class export submarine laid down at Admiralty Shipyard on 26 December 1997—nor has there been further discussion of the similar Lada -class (Project 877) boat Sankt Petersburg , begun the same day at the same facility for the Russian Navy.

China's indigenous Song -class (Project 039) diesel attack submarine program has not yet produced a second operational unit since the first was completed in 1995, but two more were said to be under construction at Wuhan in August 1998. Reports that China has obtained a license for indigenous production of 17 Russian-designed Kilos have not been reliably verified and appear dubious. There continue to be no reports of a launch of a unit of either the Project 093 nuclear attack submarine or of its big brother, the Project 094 SSBN.

North Korea lost another saboteur infiltration submarine to operational ineptitude in 1998, this time a unit of the 90-ton Yugo class, of which more than 50 are said to be available. Like the 325-ton Sang-o -class boat captured in 1996, the craft was found to be of primitive design and without the expected torpedo armament. The name "Yugo," implying Yugoslav design origin, appears to be a malignment, as the craft bore no resemblance to any of the relatively sophisticated Yugoslav midget sub designs.

Although reports continue to warn of the imminent production of the indigenous Indian "Advanced Technology Vessel" nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, and rumors of Russian aid of one sort or another persist, it seems much more likely that the project—much like Brazil's now semi-mythical nuclear submarine—is doomed by cost and technology deficiencies always to lie a decade or more in the future. No firm contracts were placed in 1998 for the two planned additional Indian-built Type 209/1500 diesel submarines, and an option for a second Kilo to be built in Russia from leftover components seems not to have been taken up. Kilo -class (Project 877EKM) submarine Sindhuvir which was sent to Russia for an overhaul in June 1997, has not been returned, but it was reported in November 1998 that a contract to refit one or two of the class in Russia had been signed; meanwhile, there is a growing backlog of Kilos needing major repairs that seemingly cannot be accomplished in India.

India's great rival, Pakistan, ordered three Agosta -90B diesel submarines from France in 1994, and the first of these was launched at Cherbourg on 13 August 1998 for completion late in 1999. The third boat, begun at Karachi in January 1997, is not to be completed until 2006 and is to incorporate the untried MESMA air-independent propulsion system.

France's DCN, in cooperation with Bazan in Spain, scored a notable submarine sale coup in the form of an order by Chile for two 1,750-ton Scorpene -class diesel submarines placed on 17 December 1997 for $420 million total; the boats, one of which will be outfitted in Spain and the other in France, are not due for delivery until 2004 and 2005, however. The sales success is said to be giving impetus (and cash flow) for a plan to build four sisters for the Spanish Navy as replacements for its aging quartet of Daphne -class boats. France also is attempting to sell abroad retired units of its Agosta and Daphne classes.

A July 1998 proposal by Netherlands submarine builder RDM to sell its two retired Dutch Navy Zwaardvis -class submarines to Egypt after modernization at Ingalls Shipbuilding in the United States has not been brought to fruition; the package also included follow-on assembly of RDM's perennially unbought Moray -class diesel attack boat design at Pascagoula, with the entire program to be financed with U.S. military aid funds. RDM also is said still to be in the running for Taiwan's planned construction of up to a dozen diesel submarines (despite previous Netherlands government prohibition against military sales to Taiwan), although a new competitor was reported in January 1999 in the form of a plan to fabricate German-designed submarine sections at Electric Boat for delivery to Taiwan for final assembly.

Sweden's Kockums has now completed the last of three 1,490-ton Gotland -class, air-independent propulsion-equipped submarines for the Swedish Navy and has no new construction backlog. It is, however, continuing the refits of three 1,400-ton ex-Swedish Navy Sjoormen -class boats purchased on 31 July 1997, with the first scheduled to be delivered this year. Kockums' Type 471 design, being built in Australia as the Collins class, has achieved a measure of somewhat undeserved notoriety through the disclosure of a number of minor and not-so-minor problems uncovered during trials and initial operations; the fourth Collins , the Dechaineux , was launched on 12 March 1998 and the third, the Waller, was handed over to the Royal Australian Navy on 27 September.

Kockums is also a potential beneficiary as one of the five submarine design entities bidding on the follow-on South Korean submarine program, offering six Gotland -class derivatives to be built in Sweden and three Collins -class derivatives to be built in Australia. Since the ROK prefers to build its own submarines, however, the Swedish yard's prospects seem dim. Meanwhile, the the sixth of nine license-built German Type 209/1200 submarines, the Chong Un , was commissioned in March 1998, and the seventh, the Lee Sun-sin , was launched on 20 May 1998 by Daewoo at Okpo. Daewoo's shipbuilding rival, Hyundai Heavy Industries, is seeking to capture future submarine contracts through an alliance with DCN in France, but a Russian bid to sell Kilos is unlikely to reach fruition.

Germany's submarine construction consortium (Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft [HDW] at Kiel and Thyssen Nordseewerft at Emden) meanwhile had a very good year. The second 1,720-ton Israeli Navy IKL 800 -class submarine, the Leviathan , began trials in January 1998, and the third and final boat, the Tekuma , was launched at Kiel on 9 July. In September, the Greek government announced selection of the new Type 214 design (a combination of the features of the Israeli IKL 800 and the German-Italian Type 212 designs but without the air-independent propulsion system of the latter), with the first to be built at Kiel and three more at Eleusis Shipyard in Greece. On 12 November, the South African government announced selection of an as-yet unspecified variant of the Type 209 as its replacement for the South African Navy's three aged Daphne -class boats; the submarines are to be ordered for construction in Germany at a cost of $900 million.

More immediate cash flow for German builders is brought in through ongoing cooperative license production programs in Turkey, Brazil, and South Korea, for key hull components and much of the equipment is still made in Germany. Turkey's Golcuk Naval Shipyard saw the commissioning of its third Type 209/1400, the 18 Mart, on 24 July 1998 and launched the fourth, the Anafartalar , on 2 September; an order for four more of the same class was placed on 22 July, with work on the first of them, the Gur , commencing only two days later. In the only non-U.S. submarine building program in the Western Hemisphere, the fourth license-built Type 209/1400 Mod. 3 attack submarine, the Tapajo —was launched at the Arsenal de Marinha at Rio de Janeiro on 11 June 1998 for completion in December 1999; the follow-on boat, to be named the Tamandare was to be started in December 1998 and is of a modified design—about two feet longer and with a more modern propulsion plant, new sensors and torpedoes, and a lower radiated noise. A disappointment for Germany's submarine yards came in the form of the January 1998 cancellation of Indonesia's purchase of five elderly, ex-German Navy Type 206 submarines, the first two of which had already been turned over to the Indonesian Navy in 1997 and were awaiting refits at HDW before proceeding to Indonesia.

Israel, meanwhile, was reported in January 1999 to be negotiating with Ecuador for the sale of its three 600-ton, German-designed, British-built IKL 500 submarines, which are the same age—22 years—as the pair of Type 209/1300 boats operated now by the South American navy.

In France, the second 14,335-ton Le Triomphant -class SSBN, Le Temeraire , began sea trials in April 1998 for commissioning this summer, but work on the third, Le Vigilant . has been slowed, with commissioning now scheduled for 2004. The unfunded fourth unit, scheduled to be become operational in 2008, is rumored to be a possible cancellation victim. There are no other submarines currently being built for the French Navy, but the planned six-unit, 3,500 to 4,500-ton Barracuda class (formerly the SMAF [Sous-Marins d'Attaque Futurs program]) is to be advanced, with the first hull to be laid down in 2003 at Cherbourg for commissioning in 2010 and the last to complete in 2020. To save design time for what is still a design study only in its earliest stages, the 150-megawatt K-15 reactor developed for the Le Triomphant class (and also employed on the Charles de Gaulle ) is to be used. The Barracudas are to have vertical launchers for land-attack cruise missiles. Meanwhile, the decommissionings of the last two active French Navy Agosta -class diesel attack submarines have been delayed into 2000.

The fourth and last Royal Navy Vanguard -class SSBN, HMS Vengeance , was launched on 20 September for commissioning in 2000, but a report was published in the British press in January 1999 that her sister Victorious had suffered a crack in her reactor shielding while on patrol and was leaking hard gamma radiation (presumably at low levels, since the Royal Navy was hoping to keep the submarine operational rather than subject her to a lengthy reactor cool-down process before undertaking repairs). The Strategic Defense Review of July 1998 confirmed that two more Astute -class nuclear-powered attack submarines would be ordered, for a total of five, but also announced that the attack submarine fleet would be allowed to attrite to ten from the present twelve. All ten, however, are to be able to launch land-attack Tomahawk missiles, of which 65 were ordered in 1995 and three were launched in trials off the Southern California coast by HMS Splendid in October and November 1998.

On 6 April 1998, after nearly four years of indecision, the Canadian government finally agreed to acquire the four nearly unused, 2,400-ton ex-Royal Navy Upholder -class diesel attack submarines. All but one of Canada's three Oberon -class boats have been retired, and the first Upholder is to be handed over late in 2000 and the others at six-month intervals. Two will be kept active on the Canadian east coast, one on the west coast, and the other in overhaul, with a total of six crews to be assigned to assure maximum utilization.

Cruisers

Perhaps surprisingly, there remains in the world yet one more cruiser to be delivered. On 21 February 1998, the Ukraine government announced an intention to complete the fourth 11,280-ton Russian Slava -class cruiser on order for Russia as the Admiral Flota Lobov as its new fleet flagship, the Ukrayina . A sister ship, the Russian Navy's Moskva (ex- Slava ) in refit at the same yard since 1991 remained undelivered to the Russian Black Sea Fleet through the end of the year because of a $10 million payment shortfall. The Ukrayina , laid down in 1983 and launched in August 1990, appears externally nearly complete, but where Ukraine will be able to obtain missile and other equipment for the ship remains a mystery.

The Russian Navy, which had hoped to complete the much-delayed nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser Petr Velikiy in 1996 in honor of its 300th anniversary, finally commissioned the ship on 18 April 1998, but in the Northern Fleet rather than in the originally planned Pacific Fleet. Her 19-year-old sister Admiral Ushakov , inoperable since 1990, was stricken during October to provide material for a refit of the other active unit of the Kirov class, the Admiral Nakhimov ; the Russian Duma , however, in a fit of surrealism, resolved on 14 January 1999 that the Admiral Ushakov be repaired and restored to service, paid for at the expense of repairs on other, far more useful ships still active in the Northern Fleet.

Destroyers

The fourth and final 9,485-ton Kongo -class Aegis destroyer, the Chokai , was commissioned on 20 March 1998 for the Japanese Navy, but plans to build four more of the ships are no longer being discussed—at least not in public. Otherwise, the number of countries building warships typed as "destroyers" is also extremely limited, and other than China's new 7,000-ton Luhai class and the still-completing Indian Navy Delhi class, all would probably be classed as frigates if in U.S. Navy service. Matters may change, however, if Taiwanese negotiations with the United States for four or more Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class Aegis ships, revealed in December 1998, are carried forth. Under Project Shentun (Divine Shield), the ships would be delivered in the second half of the next decade to form the basis for an anti-ballistic missile defense system, but there is reported to be considerable internal unhappiness with the plan in the Taiwanese armed forces, for it would complete with a land-based system and might also be seen as to provocative toward mainland China, which utterly lacks the technology to build similar ships.

The first Chinese Navy Luhai , the Shenzhen , intended for the South Sea Fleet, was running trials at the end of October 1998 from Dalian. Although significantly larger than the preceding pair of Luhu -class destroyers, the new ship is less well-equipped, aside from doubling the number of antiship missile launchers to 16. China's other destroyer program, the completion at St. Petersburg of the unfinished Russian Navy Sovremennyy -class guided-missile destroyers Yekakterinburg (ex- Vazhnyy ) and Aleksandr Nevskiy (ex- Vdumchivyy ), is in trouble. According to the Russian press, neither the shipbuilder nor the manufacturer of the 30 Moskit (NATO SS-N-22 Sunburn) antiship missiles intended for the ships has been able to obtain financing to pay for workers and materials.

The Russian Navy itself is facing bleak prospects for new construction. During his 28 August press conference, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov announced that no new warships would be ordered for his navy for five years. He did predict completion of a few still incomplete surface combatant units, but his forecast of a late 1998 commissioning of the sole, much-delayed Project 1155.1 destroyer, the Admiral Chabenenko , finally took place on 28 January 1999.

South Korea commissioned the first of its three KDX-1 mini-destroyers, the 3,855-ton Kwanggaeto during July 1998, and the second, the Ulchimundo , is scheduled to be completed this month. Plans for larger destroyers—including a 9,000-ton Aegis-equipped design—remain in a state of flux. Japan's 5,100-ton Murasame -class destroyer program remains on track, with the Inazuma and Samidare launched in September 1998 and the Yudachi and Kirisame to commission this month. To follow the nine compact Murasames , funds were approved under the 1998 budget for the first of a slightly larger design, and a second was requested for 1999.

The only other ongoing destroyer program—the Indian Delhi class—remains at slow ahead. The 6,700-ton Delhi journeyed to South Korea and Japan in the fall of 1998, but the Mysore and Bombay , launched in 1993 and 1995, remain to be commissioned. In August 1998, the Indian Navy requested funds for three more of the ships, to be equipped with more up-to-date electronic systems.

Greece's on-again/off-again plans to purchase the four 9,950-ton U.S. Navy Kidd (DDG-993)-class guided-missile destroyers—the world's largest destroyers and, after the Aegis-equipped Kongo and Arleigh Burke classes the most combat-capable—seemed on again in December 1998 when the U.S. Department of Defense offered a $742 million proposal for a five-year cost-free lease arrangement that included transfer of 32 Harpoon and 64 obsolescent ASROC missiles, 48 Mark 46 Mod 5 torpedoes, 4,800 rounds of five-inch and 62,000 rounds of 20-mm ammunition, and 320 decoy rockets—but not the Standard SM-2 surface-to-air missiles desired by the Greeks. Reportedly, the ships will make do at first with the 128 SM-1 missiles remaining in the Greek Navy inventory for its four ex-U.S. Navy Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class destroyers, which will be retired to provide crews for the Kidds . The longer-ranged SM-2 will be provided later, presumably when political constraints have been assuaged or forgotten.

Frigates

The term "frigate," like that of "destroyer," has lost most of its military meaning to budget politics, and several of the most significant frigate programs now or soon to be under way are for ships that will displace more than 6,000 tons. The convoluted history of the 6,800-ton joint British-French-Italian "Horizon"-class "Common New-Generation Frigate" project reached yet another crisis in mid-December 1998 when the British, upset at the rising projected costs and delays under the current French-dominated management team, withheld further funding until a new, preferably British, project management team could be formed. This makes considerable sense, if for no other reason than, while the Royal Navy still dreams of obtaining a dozen of the ships, France and Italy now plan realistically on building only two each.

The much less rigidly structured Dutch, German, and Spanish guided-missile frigate programs, meanwhile, are producing results. The keel for the first of four 6,048-ton De Zeven Provincien -class frigates was laid on 1 September 1998 at Schelde Shipbuilding for the Royal Netherlands Navy; work on Germany's first of up to four 5,690-ton Type 124 frigates, the Sachsen , was begun at Hamburg in March 1998; and work is under way for completion of the first of four 5,802-ton F-100 class frigates for the Spanish Navy. All three of these very different-looking designs will employ Standard SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, with the Spanish ordering the SPY-1D Aegis weapons system and the Germans and Dutch the DaimlerChrysler APAR and Signaal SMART-L radar systems.

Norway's plan for up to six 3,700-ton Oslo -class replacement frigates appeared to be jeopardized by funding constraints in mid-1998 but was later reaffirmed by the Norwegian government; the winning design is to be selected in mid-1999. One of the surviving competitors for the Norwegian program, Germany's Blohm + Voss, had an excellent year, delivering the first of a planned three Turkish Navy MEKO-200TN frigates equipped with vertical launchers for Sea Sparrow missiles, the Salihreis , on 17 December, while licensee Hellenic Shipyards commissioned its second MEKO 200 for the Greek Navy, the Psara , on 30 April. In Australia, the third MEKO-200 ANZ, the Warramunga , was launched by Tenix Defense Systems on 23 May for commissioning in March of 2000, but bad news came in the form of a reaffirmation of a New Zealand decision not to order its third unit of the class. South Africa selected Blohm + Voss's stealthy-looking new MEKO A-200 SA design for a quartet of 3,000-ton frigates.

Work continued in the United Kingdom on the final three of 16 4,380-ton Type 23 frigates, a program commenced in 1994 that will see the last ship, the Portland , commissioned in 2001; the Kent was launched on 27 May and the St. Albans was to have been launched late in the year. The Strategic Defense Review , however, also brought a reduction in the total Royal Navy frigate force from 35 to 32 ships, and the mid-1980s-completed Type 22 Batch II frigates Beaver , Boxer , and London are all to be "paid off" this year; they are for sale together for $166 million, with Chile reported to be the intended customer—despite rancor over the Pinochet affair.

In France, fitting out continues on the fourth La Fayette -class frigate, the Aconit , and the fifth and final French Navy unit, the Guepratte , is to launch a year from this month; after that, other than the planned pair of "Horizon" frigates, no future surface combatant construction programs have been announced. Three improved variants of the La Fayette design, however, are on order from the DCN yard at Lorient for delivery to Saudi Arabia in 2001 through 2005. In the Western Hemisphere's only current frigate construction effort, Brazil's 2,350-ton Barroso , is scheduled to be launched this June, but progress on the major modernization of the half-dozen 3,800-ton Niteroi -class frigates is well behind the originally announced schedule.

Used frigates from the United States continue to dilute the sales potential for new ships. In 1998, Turkey agreed to purchase the Reid (FFG-30) and Mahlon S. Tisdale (FFG-27) for delivery this year as the Gelibolu and Gokceada , respectively; a third Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigate, the Duncan (FFG-10), is being acquired as a spare parts source. On 28 April 1998, Taiwan bought a pair of decommissioned Knox (FF-1052)-class frigates, the Pharris (FF-1094), renamed the Ning Yang , and the Valdez (FF-1096), renamed the Yi Yang , bringing the total of the class in Republic of China Navy hands to eight, with no more to be acquired; four of the ships are to have their combat data systems updated. Also in 1998, Taiwan on 19 March commissioned the sixth and last French-built La Fayette -class frigate, the Chengde , under Project Kuang Hua II, and also commissioned the indigenously built seventh PFG-2-class guided-missile frigate, the Chang Chien , on 1 December. Approval also was given for the construction of an eighth PFG-2 (a variant of the U.S. Navy's Oliver Hazard Perry design), the Tian Dan , which is to complete in mid-2003. Plans for up to 16 new 2,000-ton small frigates under Project Kuang Hua V remain on hold.

In addition to building its destroyer series, the South Korean Navy is planning construction of a new fleet escort frigate class, details for which have not yet been announced. Daewoo Heavy Industries received a contract for $100 million on 11 September 1997 to build a 2,300-ton frigate for Bangladesh; otherwise, no frigate construction is ongoing in Korea. In China, the first of four 2,250-ton, diesel-powered Jiangwei-II frigates may have been completed at the end of 1998, but the unusual pendant number assigned may indicate that the ship is destined for export. The second unit, however, bears number 522, squarely within the block assigned to Chinese Navy frigates. The other two ships are expected to be launched this year; their equipage is, typically, several decades behind world naval state-of-the-art.

Further work on the new-design Russian frigate Novik at Yantar Works, Kaliningrad, reportedly ceased immediately after her ceremonial keel-laying on 26 July 1997. The same yard announced in November 1998 that it was scrapping the incomplete second and third Neustrashimyy -class frigates to recoup some of its uncompensated investment; the third hull, to have been named Tuman , was launched on 6 November only to clear space for a contract to repair Norwegian merchant ships.

Authors Note : The author wishes to thank Werner Globke, editor of Weyer's Flottentaschenbuch , and Bernard Prezelin, editor of Les Flottes de Combat , for their assistance in the preparation of this survey. Many other regular contributors to Combat Fleets of the World also rendered invaluable assistance.

 

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